EPT10 Sanremo: Heavyweights return for soporific stage

You don't need to ask players at EPT Sanremo whether or not they had the buffet. You can see it in their faces. Specifically, it's clear that they've indulged when they return to their chairs after the 75-minute interval, sit down as if their knees are 50 years older than they are and then puff out their reddened cheeks. It's a big spread here--eat-all-you-can, and then go back for more. And then drift off to sleep if you can.

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Wake up Hugo Pingray!*

The tournament information board showed 301 Day 1B players left when they came back from the break today, from a starting field that is creeping towards 400. A sizeable portion of those had indulged in a surely sizeable portion from the rooftop restaurant. The atmosphere was heavy as the tournament room refilled.

In many ways, this is the crucial stage of a Day 1, where the rest of a player's week can be defined. The antes are now in play, the blinds are significant, and some big stacks are starting to take shape. Andrea Benelli, for instance, knows how to wield a stack and put others under pressure for their tournament life. On one of the first hands back after the break, he picked up a tower of blue chips, worth close to 100,000, and slammed them on the felt and over the line.

I didn't see anything else of the coup -- not how it got to that position, nor who was under threat, nor any cards in any hands. But shortly thereafter, Benelli was cupping the azure tower back in the same mitt and moving it back behind the line. Job done.

Paul Berende, the endlessly effusive Dutchman, was notably quiet in the first orbit back. Perhaps he too had taken on too much ballast. But a server was summonsed and returned a moment later with an espresso in a tiny cup and saucer borrowed from a doll's house. Berende pulled out his Duracell PowerMat and placed the shot of caffeine on it. The mat is there to recharge batteries, let's not forget, and who could say that this wasn't an appropriate use?

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Paul Berende, left. Now his countryman Govert Metaal has been eliminated, needs artificial means to stay awake

Artem Litvinov has kicked off his shoes and has his socked feet crossed beneath the table. He polished off a can of Peroni, then slid his way to the rubbish bin at the side of the tournament room.

More than 50 players were eliminated in the first hour after dinner. The realisation has begun to encroach that it's time to get a stack or go home.

Time to follow closely all the hand by hand action on the main EPT Sanremo page, where you'll also find chip counts in the panel up top.

*Pingray had actually gone broke long before the dinner break.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour